Late Friday night, the U.S House approved the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act with 13 Republicans crossing the aisle, while moving the Build Back Better Act (BBBA) another step forward along party lines. Final approval of that bill is still essential to meet the scale of our climate crisis.
President Biden indicated he will sign the infrastructure act next week, after Congress returns to Washington following its week-long recess. Several key House moderates also agreed Friday to support BBBA in a vote that same week.
Environmental advocates, climate scientists, and economists agree the bipartisan bill alone does not do enough to fight climate change and promote environmental justice. To address the climate crisis in time to avoid global catastrophe, it is essential to pass BBBA.
The bipartisan infrastructure bill contains some environmentally significant investments, including these:
- $66 billion for a major expansion of passenger and freight rail
- $60 billion to modernize the electric power grid, which is important for increasing use of wind and solar energy
- $55 billion to replace lead water pipes and make other water system improvements
- $50 billion to respond to climate disasters like wildfires and floods
- $7.5 billion to build electric vehicle charging stations
But BBBA would go far further. Nearly a third ($555 billion) of BBBA is dedicated to climate action, including tax incentives for clean energy, clean transportation, and energy efficiency investments on a massive scale; greenhouse gas reductions; environmental and climate justice investment grants; and extensive protections for public lands and waters. It would save the average household $500 annually on their power bill. And unlike the infrastructure bill, BBBA will actually reduce the deficit. The White House released a fact sheet about BBBA’s benefits for North Carolina (PDF).
League of Conservation Voters Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld said “the House made important progress by passing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in tandem with the rule to advance the Build Back Better Act. Now it’s time to finish the job, pass the Build Back Better Act and quickly get it to the President’s desk. We are out of time to tackle the climate crisis — Congress must seize this historic opportunity to make the investments needed to put the U.S. on track to cut climate pollution in half by 2030, create good jobs, and advance justice.”
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